Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trying to be friends

My ex and I are trying to be friends.

Maybe it's too soon.

Yesterday, we went for a drive in the country hoping to catch some of the fall colours. We travelled to the Valley then south to Mahone Bay before turning home.

We conversed or stayed quiet; it was mostly companionable. We stopped to buy apples and blackberry jam, had lunch, and walked the length of Queensland Beach.

But there was another less genial side to this comraderie: the churning underbelly of anger, resentment and hurt feelings that individuals who were once couples share. We try to hide it by conversing about nothing personal and by biting our lips when the other does the things that made us crazy when we were together.

But then it happened. I got miffed.

As I exited the car, thanking him for a nice day, being as benignly polite as I could be, and he responded by not responding -- making me feel like he was doing me a favour by spending the day with me -- I replied mockingly on his behalf: "And thank you for a nice day too. It was a great idea to get out on such a sunny day."

So, he was angry and I was angry. Great.

I called him last night to discuss what had happened and we ended up talking for well over an hour.

The end result is that I think I'm beginning to understand him a little better. I think, is the key phrase. I thought I understood the degree to which a lifetime of depression has affected him. I have not, as it turns out. I have not understood the degree to which he has been incapacitated, frozen from action.

Those times when I cried during a sad movie and he didn't hold my hand, the times I needed a hug that he didn't give me, the times I needed him to help me with a decision -- all those things that, in my mind, added up to him not loving me, may have been his illness.

How can I be angry at someone who is ill? Someone who isn't able do something because he doesn't have the mental ability to do it?

I can't get angry if someone can't balance a cheque book or speak French so how can I be angry with him for not being able to do things if he was unable to do them just because I needed them done?

And maybe I have to find solace in the fact that maybe he loved me as best he could. It wasn't enough, but it may not have been as selfish as I've thought it was in the way that grabbing onto a life-raft isn't selfish when you're drowning -- essential for survival but not selfish.

If I was his life-raft, can I blame him for hanging on even if he nearly drowned me in the process?

I'll have to think that over.


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